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How Baseball Owners Made Their Fortunes

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Baseball season is finally here, so let's take a look at the people profiting from $16 stadium beers.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Ken Kendrick (Part-Owner)

Owner Since: 1995

The Numbers: Forbes estimates the Diamondbacks are worth $447 million. Kendrick was a founding part-owner of the franchise in 1995 and became Managing General Partner in 2004.

Collector: Kendrick owns the most expensive baseball card in history, the T206 Honus Wagner. He paid $2.8 million for the card—dubbed the "Gretzky T206 Honus Wagner" because Wayne Gretzky was one of its previous owners—in 2007. Kendrick owns more than 10,000 baseball cards.

How He Got Rich: In the '70s, Kendrick merged his data technology firm with another to create Datatel, Inc. The company specializes in information processing and software products for higher education.

Atlanta Braves: Liberty Media (Chairman John C. Malone)

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, fair use

Owners Since: 2007

The Numbers: The media group bought the Braves in 2007 for $450 million. The baseball franchise is worth around $508 million today. Forbes estimates the company's Chairman, John Malone, to be worth $7.1 billion.

Other Holdings: Liberty Media either owns or holds large shares of QVC, Expedia, Sirius XM Radio, and Barnes & Noble.

How He Got Rich: Malone started in telecomunications at AT&T and served as the President and CEO of TCI before becoming the Chairman of Liberty Media Group.

Baltimore Orioles: Peter Angelos

Owner Since: 1993

The Numbers: Angelos led a group of investors in the $173 million acquisition of the Baltimore Orioles. They were awarded the franchise in bankruptcy court.

Other Investors: Techno-thriller novelist Tom Clancy was a member of that investment group and made $230 million from his original $43 million stake in the team. That buys a lot of U.S. Navy baseball hats.

How He Got Rich: Angelos is a successful personal injury attorney. He represented the state of Maryland in their suit against Philip Morris and his firm also took on the manufacturers of the diet drug Fen-Phen.

Boston Red Sox: John W. Henry

Owner Since: 2002

The Numbers: After he sold the Florida Marlins, John W. Henry and his partner Tom Werner paid $380 million for the Red Sox in 2002. The team is now worth $1.3 billion.

Other Ventures: Henry is also the principal owner of the Boston Globe and Liverpool FC, and is a part-owner of NASCAR's Roush Fenway Racing team.

How He Got Rich: John Henry started a commodities management company in 1981. According to Forbes, he is "winding down" the "struggling" firm.

Chicago Cubs: Thomas S. Ricketts

Image courtesy of TonytheTiger, used under Creative Commons license.

Owner Since: 2009

The Numbers: The Ricketts family bought the Cubs for $700 million.

Wrigley Connection: After college, Ricketts lived with his brother in an apartment across the street from Wrigley Field. He also met his wife in Wrigley's bleachers during a game.

How He Got Rich: Tom Ricketts is a director of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation (his father founded Ameritrade in 1983). He is also the chairman of Incapital LLC, an investment firm. The Ricketts family wealth is estimated at $1 billion.

Chicago White Sox: Jerry Reinsdorf

Owner Since 1981

The Numbers: Reinsdorf bought the White Sox for $20 million. The team is now worth an estimated $695 million.

Other Ventures: Reinsdorf also owns the Chicago Bulls. He bought the then-financially struggling basketball team in 1985. The Bulls are now one of the most profitable franchises in sports.

How He Got Rich: Reinsdorf started his career as a tax attorney. He went on to specialize in real estate tax shelters and investments in properties that were under construction.

Cincinnati Reds: Robert Castellini

YouTube

Owner Since: 2006

The Numbers: Castellini led a group that purchased the team for $270 million from dairy billionaire Carl Lindner, Jr. in 2006.

Frequent Buyers Club: Robert Castellini was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals' ownership group as well as the investment group that purchased the Baltimore Orioles.

How He Got Rich: He is the president of a Cincinnati-based fruit and vegetable wholesaler.

Cleveland Indians: Larry Dolan

YouTube

Owner Since: 1999

The Numbers: Larry Dolan bought the team for $323 million. The Indians are now estimated to be worth $600 million.

Family Business: His brother Charles founded Cablevision, which controls the Madison Square Garden company. That entity, which is now run by Larry's nephew James, owns the New York Knicks and New York Rangers.

How He Got Rich: Dolan was a successful lawyer and is a managing partner of a large Ohio-based firm.

Colorado Rockies: Charles and Richard Monfort

Owners Since: 1992

The Numbers: The Monfort brothers bought a controlling interest in the expansion team in 1992, paying $92 million. The Rockies are now worth an estimated $575 million.

They Don't Quite Agree With Those Numbers Above: Dick Monfort thinks the club is worth a little more than Forbes' estimate. In an email to the Denver Post, he wrote, "The Astros sold for $600 million, as did the Padres, so I would guess that is the realm of our value. Then you do balance sheet adjustment. Forbes is close."

How They Got Rich: Their father sold his meat processing and distributing company for $365.5 million to ConAgra Foods in 1987. Both brothers work as executives there.

Detroit Tigers: Mike Ilitch

Owner Since: 1992

The Numbers: Ilitch bought the Tigers in 1992 for $82 million. The team is worth an estimated $680 million.

Second Baseman: He played minor league ball for four years before injuring his knee.

How He Got Rich: Pizza pizza. In 1959, Ilitch opened Little Caesars Pizza in Garden City, Michigan. A massive franchise followed, and Illitch is worth an estimate $2.7 billion today.

Houston Astros: Jim Crane

Owner Since: 2011

The Numbers: Crane paid $465 million for the Astros in 2011.

Scratch Golfer: Golf Digest ranks Crane as the world's best CEO golfer. As of 2006, he had a 0.8 handicap.

How He Got Rich: Crane founded Eagle Global Logistics, Inc., a worldwide transportation and supply management company, in 1984. He served as CEO until it merged with CEVA Logistics in 2007.

Kansas City Royals: David Glass

Owner Since: 2000

The Numbers: Glass was the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Royals in 1993 and eventually bought the team in 2000 for $96 million. They are now worth an estimated $490 million.

How He Got Rich: From 1988 to 2000, Glass served as CEO of Wal-Mart.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Arturo Moreno

Owner Since 2003

The Numbers: Moreno bought the Angels from The Walt Disney Company in 2003 for $180 million.

Pioneer: Moreno is the first ever Mexican American owner of a major U.S. sports team.

How He Got Rich: He started his career in advertising and eventually became the CEO of Outdoor Systems, a billboard company. Moreno sold Outdoor Systems in 2008 for a reported $8 billion. He is now worth an estimated $1.15 billion.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Guggenheim Baseball Management (CEO: Mark Walter)

Owner Since: 2012

The Numbers: Guggenheim Baseball Management, a group let by Mark Walter (Magic Johnson is another notable member), purchased the Dodgers in 2012 for $2 billion—a record amount for a sports team.

How He Got Rich: Walter is a founder and CEO of Guggenheim Partners, LLC, a financial and investment firm based in New York and Chicago.

Miami Marlins: Jeffrey Loria

Owner Since: 2002

The Numbers: Loria had become majority owner of the Montreal Expos in 1999. After a series of miscues (some accuse these of being deliberate), Loria couldn't secure English-language television rights and demanded tax funds for a new stadium (the request was denied). In 2002, with the help of commissioner Bud Selig, Loria sold the Expos to MLB for $120 million. John W. Henry, the owner of the Marlins at the time, then sold the Florida team to Loria for $158.5 million, making it possible for Henry to buy the Red Sox. The Expos were then moved to D.C. to become the Nationals. All three moves happened almost simultaneously, with all parties working closely together on the switches.

Nice Painting, Can it Play Third?: In 2013, Loria sold one Alberto Giacometti painting for $32.6 million. As Yahoo! notes, that's over $6 million less than the Marlins' payroll at the time.

How He Got Rich: After studying art in college, Loria became head of the Vincent Price Collection of artwork at Sears (yes, this was a thing). After leaving the department store, he opened his own gallery and became a successful art dealer.

Milwaukee Brewers: Mark Attanasio

Owner Since: 2005

The Numbers: Attanasio led a group that purchased the Brewers from the Selig family for $223 million.

Collector: After his collection of Yankees Topps cards was stolen from a cousin's house, Attanasio tried to replenish the entire set by buying replacements on eBay.

How He Got Rich: Attanasio co-founded Crescent Capital Group, an investment firm, in 1991. The group was sold to the Trust Company of the West in 1995, and he stayed on as an executive.

Minnesota Twins: Jim Pohlad

Owner Since: 1984

The Numbers: Carl Pohlad purchased the Twins in 1984 for $44 million. After his death in 2009, his son Jim inherited the team, which is now worth an estimated $605 million.

Number Cruncher: When his father bought the Twins, Jim Pohlad worked as an analyst and made payroll projections for the team.

How He Got Rich: Pohlad's father got into the banking industry after the great depression and became a successful investor in industries like aviation and soft-drink bottling. At the time of his death, Carl Pohlad's net worth was estimated at $3.6 billion.

New York Mets: Fred Wilpon (Majority Owner)

Owner Since: 2002

The Numbers: In 2002, Wilpon and his family became the majority owners of the Mets for a total sum of $391 million.

Madoff Money: Wilpon invested heavily with Bernie Madoff. After Madoff's infamous Ponzi scheme fell apart, victims sued Wilpon and other Mets owners for knowingly supporting the fraud. They agreed on a settlement of $162 million, as well as the acknowledgment that Wilpon and the Mets' ownership had no clue about the scheme.

How He Got Rich: In the 1970s, Wilpon and his brother started Sterling Equities, a real estate development company. They focused on real estate at the bottom of the market and the business soon boomed.

New York Yankees: Hal Steinbrenner

Owner Since: 1973

The Numbers: George Steinbrenner led a group that purchased the Yankees from CBS for under $10 million in 1973. They are now worth $2.5 billion, making them the most valuable team in baseball and the fourth most valuable franchise in all of sports.

How He Got Rich: Hal was given control of the Yankees in 2007 by his father, George, as his health began to wane. The family's money originally came from the Kinsman Marine Transit Company, a shipping business purchased by George's great-grandfather in 1901.

Oakland Athletics: Lewis Wolff and John L. Fisher (Co-Owners)

Owner Since: 2005

The Numbers: Wolff led the ownership group that bought the A's for $180 million in 2005. The majority owner is John J. Fisher, who staked most of the money.

Soccer Side Projects: Fisher has small ownership investments in the San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS and Scottish side Glasgow Celtic.

How He Got Rich: Wolff made his fortune in real estate. He began as an appraiser in St. Louis before moving west and becoming a development mogul in San Diego. His companies now manage hotel properties around the world.

Fisher is an heir to the Gap clothing fortune. He is worth an estimated $2.8 billion.

Philadelphia Phillies: David Montgomery (Managing Group Partner)

Owner Since: 1981

The Numbers: David Montgomery is managing partner of the group that bought the Phillies from the Carpenter family for $30 million in 1981.

Heckling the Team He'd One Day Run: As a teenager, Montgomery would attend Phillies games with friend (and future Pennsylvania Governor) Ed Rendell. One time, after ribbing Phillies reliever Turk Farrell, Rendell recalls, “[Farrell] got so mad he looked like he was going to throw a ball at us, and Turk could really hum the ball. We were scared to death.”

How He Got Rich: Montgomery's wealth comes from within the franchise—he was the team's director of sales and marketing before becoming its business director shortly before the purchase.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Robert Nutting

Owner Since:1996

The Numbers: Robert Nutting purchased the team for $92 million. The Pirates are now evaluated to be worth $572 million.

Air Pirate: Nutting is a licensed commercial pilot and flight instructor.

How He Got Rich: Nutting is the President and CEO of Ogden Newspapers, a publisher of over 40 newspapers and media outlets across the U.S. that was started by his great-grandfather in 1890.

San Diego Padres: Ron Fowler

Image courtesy of Bagumba, used under Creative Commons license.

Owner Since: 2012

The Numbers: Fowler was a member of the minority ownership group of the Padres and organized a new group that bought full ownership of the team in 2012 for $800 million (as much as $200 million of the sale included the rights to Fox Sports San Diego).

Other Ventures: Fowler used to own the San Diego Shockers, an indoor soccer team that dissolved in 1996.

How He Got Rich: Fowler is the chairman of Liquid Investments, a West Coast beer distribution company.

San Francisco Giants: Charles Bartlett Johnson (Principal Owner)

YouTube

Owner Since 1992

The Numbers: In 2012, Charles B. Johnson upped his stake in the Giants' ownership group and became principal owner (the group had purchased the team in 1992 for $100 million).

Low-Visibility Owner: Johnson watched the Giants' 2010 World Series victory at home on TV and he sent his daughter to represent him during the parade.

How He Got Rich: Johnson was the Chairman of Franklin Resources, which controls mutual fund purveyor Franklin Templeton. His father founded Franklin Distributors in 1947. Charles B. Johnson's net worth is estimated at $7.7 billion.

Seattle Mariners: Nintendo (represented by CEO Howard Lincoln)

Owner Since: 1992

The Numbers: Gaming giant Nintendo bought the Mariners in 1992 in a deal worth $100 million. The team is now worth $710 million. Howard Lincoln became the CEO of the Mariners after the death of majority shareholder and former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi.

Baseball?: When he bought the Mariners, Yamauchi admitted that he had never been to a baseball game in his entire life. Despite owning the team for 20 years until his death, Yamauchi never attended a single game.

How He Got Rich: Lincoln started his career with Nintendo as a lawyer before eventually working his way up to Chairman in 1994.

St. Louis Cardinals: William DeWitt, Jr.

Owner Since: 1995

The Numbers: DeWitt and his partners purchased the Cardinals from Anheuser-Busch for $150 million.

Serial Investor: Before buying the Cardinals, DeWitt was a member of groups that invested in the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles.

How He Got Rich: DeWitt is a founder of the investment firm Reynolds, DeWitt & Co., which owns various properties such as the U.S. Playing Card Company and dozens of Arby's franchises.

Tampa Bay Rays: Stuart Sternberg

Owner Since: 1995

The Numbers: Sternberg is the Rays' principal owner—he bought a controlling interest in the team for $200 million.

Adios, "Devil": In 2007, Sternberg oversaw the team's name change from "Devil Rays" to, simply, "Rays": "We were tied to the past, and the past wasn't necessarily something we wanted to be known for."

How He Got Rich: Sternberg started investing in the stock market and worked in the industry until 2002, when he retired from Goldman Sachs as a partner. According to the New York Times, "he cashed out...for a reported $400 million."

Texas Rangers: Ray Davis

YouTube

Owner Since: 2010

The Numbers: Davis bought the Rangers for $593 million. The team is now valued at $825 million.

Invisible Owner: After the (suspected) ousting of team CEO Chuck Greenberg, the notoriously hard-to-find Davis talked to reporters to answer questions. Davis quickly reminded them not to get used to it: "Neither Bob [Simpson] or I expect ever to do another press conference."

How He Got Rich: Ray Davis's estimated net worth is around $1.9 billion. He made his money in the energy sector, acting as CEO of Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. until 2007.

Toronto Blue Jays: Rogers Communications (Chairman: Alan Horn, CEO: Guy Lawrence)

Wikimedia Commons

Owner Since: 2000

The Numbers: Rogers Communications acquired the Blue Jays in 2000 for $137 million.

Company Ownership: The Blue Jays are one of three Major League Baseball teams to be owned by a company (The Braves and Seattle Mariners are the other two).

Washington Nationals: Ted Lerner

Owner Since: 2006

The Numbers: The Lerner Family bought the Nationals from MLB for $450 million.

Other Ventures: Lerner is a partner in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Verizon Center and the Washington Wizards and Capitals.

How He Got Rich: Lerner, a real estate mogul, began by building shopping centers in rural Maryland. His net worth is estimated to be around $4 billion.

See Also:

How NBA Owners Made Their Money
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How NFL Owners Made Their Money

All images courtesy of Getty Images unless otherwise stated. Financial numbers are from Forbes unless otherwise stated.

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10 Things We Know About The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2
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Hulu

Though Hulu has been producing original content for more than five years now, 2017 turned out to be a banner year for the streaming network with the debut of The Handmaid’s Tale on April 26, 2017. The dystopian drama, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book, imagines a future in which a theocratic regime known as Gilead has taken over the United States and enslaved fertile women so that the group’s most powerful couples can procreate.

If it all sounds rather bleak, that’s because it is—but it’s also one of the most impressive new series to arrive in years (as evidenced by the slew of awards it has won, including eight Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards). Fortunately, fans left wanting more don’t have that much longer to wait, as season two will premiere on Hulu in April. In the meantime, here’s everything we know about The Handmaid’s Tale’s second season.

1. IT WILL PREMIERE WITH TWO EPISODES.

When The Handmaid’s Tale returns on April 25, 2018, Hulu will release the first two of its 13 new episodes on premiere night, then drop another new episode every Wednesday.

2. MARGARET ATWOOD WILL CONTINUE TO HELP SHAPE THE NARRATIVE.

Fans of Atwood’s novel who didn’t like that season one went beyond the original source material are in for some more disappointment in season two, as the narrative will again go beyond the scope of what Atwood covered. But creator/showrunner Bruce Miller doesn’t necessarily agree with the criticism they received in season one.

“People talk about how we're beyond the book, but we're not really," Miller told Newsweek. "The book starts, then jumps 200 years with an academic discussion at the end of it, about what's happened in those intervening 200 years. We're not going beyond the novel. We're just covering territory [Atwood] covered quickly, a bit more slowly.”

Even more importantly, Miller's got Atwood on his side. The author serves as a consulting producer on the show, and the title isn’t an honorary one. For Miller, Atwood’s input is essential to shaping the show, particularly as it veers off into new territories. And they were already thinking about season two while shooting season one. “Margaret and I had started to talk about the shape of season two halfway through the first [season],” he told Entertainment Weekly.

In fact, Miller said that when he first began working on the show, he sketched out a full 10 seasons worth of storylines. “That’s what you have to do when you’re taking on a project like this,” he said.

3. MOTHERHOOD WILL BE A CENTRAL THEME.

As with season one, motherhood is a key theme in the series. And June/Offred’s pregnancy will be one of the main plotlines. “So much of [Season 2] is about motherhood,” Elisabeth Moss said during the Television Critics Association press tour. “Bruce and I always talked about the impending birth of this child that’s growing inside her as a bit of a ticking time bomb, and the complications of that are really wonderful to explore. It’s a wonderful thing to have a baby, but she’s having it potentially in this world that she may not want to bring it into. And then, you know, if she does have the baby, the baby gets taken away from her and she can’t be its mother. So, obviously, it’s very complicated and makes for good drama. But, it’s a very big part of this season, and it gets bigger and bigger as the show goes on.”

4. THE RESISTANCE IS COMING.

Just because June is pregnant, don’t expect her to sit on the sidelines as the resistance to Gilead continues. “There is more than one way to resist," Moss said. “There is resistance within [June], and that is a big part of this season.”

5. WE’LL GET TO SEE THE COLONIES.

A scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'
Hulu

Miller, understandably, isn’t eager to share too many details about the new season. “I’m not being cagey!” he swore to Entertainment Weekly. “I just want the viewers to experience it for themselves!” What he did confirm is that the new season will bring us to the colonies—reportedly in episode two—and show what life is like for those who have been sent there.

It will also delve further into what life is like for the refugees who managed to escape Gilead, like Luke and Moira.

6. MARISA TOMEI WILL APPEAR IN AN EPISODE.

Though she won’t be a regular cast member, Miller recently announced that Oscar winner Marisa Tomei will make a guest appearance in the new season’s second episode. Yes, the one that will show us the Colonies. In fact, that’s where we’ll meet her; Tomei is playing the wife of a Commander.

7. WE’LL LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF GILEAD.

As a group shrouded in secrecy, we still don’t know much about how and where Gilead began. That will change a bit in season two. When discussing some of the questions viewers will have answered, executive producer Warren Littlefield promised that, "How did Gilead come about? How did this happen?” would be two of them. “We get to follow the historical creation of this world,” he said.

8. THERE WILL BE AT LEAST ONE HANDMAID FUNERAL.

A scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'
Hulu

While Miller wouldn’t talk about who the handmaids are mourning in a teaser shot from season two that shows a handmaid’s funeral, he was excited to talk about creating the look for the scene. “Everything from the design of their costumes to the way they look is so chilling,” Miller told Entertainment Weekly. “These scenes that are so beautiful, while set in such a terrible place, provide the kind of contrast that makes me happy.”

9. ELISABETH MOSS SAYS THE TONE WILL BE DARKER.

Like season one, Miller says that The Handmaid’s Tale's second season will again balance its darker, dystopian themes with glimpses of hopefulness. “I think the first season had very difficult things, and very hopeful things, and I think this season is exactly the same way,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “There come some surprising moments of real hope and victory, and strength, that come from surprising places.”

Moss, however, has a different opinion. “It's a dark season,” she told reporters at TCA. “I would say arguably it's darker than Season 1—if that's possible.”

10. IT WILL ALSO BE BLOODIER.

A scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'
Hulu

When pressed about how the teaser images for the new season seemed to feature a lot of blood, Miller conceded: “Oh gosh, yeah. There may be a little more blood this season.”

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6 Surprising Facts About Nintendo's Animal Crossing

by Ryan Lambie

Animal Crossing is one of the most unusual series of games Nintendo has ever produced. Casting you as a newcomer in a woodland town populated by garrulous and sometimes eccentric creatures, Animal Crossing is about conversation, friendship, and collecting things rather than competition or shooting enemies. It’s a formula that has grown over successive generations, with the 3DS version now one of the most popular games available for that system—which is all the more impressive, given the game’s obscure origins almost 15 years ago. Here are a few things you might not have known about the video game.

1. ITS INSPIRATION CAME FROM AN UNLIKELY PLACE.

By the late 1990s, Katsuya Eguchi had already worked on some of Nintendo’s greatest games. He’d designed the levels for the classic Super Mario Bros 3. He was the director of Star Fox (or Star Wing, as it was known in the UK), and the designer behind the adorable Yoshi’s Story. But Animal Crossing was inspired by Eguchi’s experiences from his earlier days, when he was a 21-year-old graduate who’d taken the decisive step of moving from Chiba Prefecture, Japan, where he’d grown up and studied, to Nintendo’s headquarters in Kyoto.

Eguchi wanted to recreate the feeling of being alone in a new town, away from friends and family. “I wondered for a long time if there would be a way to recreate that feeling, and that was the impetus behind Animal Crossing,” Eguchi told Edge magazine in 2008. Receiving letters from your mother, getting a job (from the game’s resident raccoon capitalist, Tom Nook), and gradually filling your empty house with furniture and collectibles all sprang from Eguchi’s memories of first moving to Kyoto.

2. IT WAS ORIGINALLY DEVELOPED FOR THE N64.

Although Animal Crossing would eventually become best known as a GameCube title—to the point where many assume that this is where the series began—the game actually appeared first on the N64. First developed for the ill-fated 64DD add-on, Animal Crossing (or Doubutsu no Mori, which translates to Animal Forest) was ultimately released as a standard cartridge. But by the time Animal Crossing emerged in Japan in 2001, the N64 was already nearing the end of its lifespan, and was never localized for a worldwide release.

3. TRANSLATING THE GAME FOR AN INTERNATIONAL AUDIENCE WAS A DIFFICULT TASK.

The GameCube version of Animal Crossing was released in Japan in December 2001, about eight months after the N64 edition. Thanks to the added capacity of the console’s discs, they could include characters like Tortimer or Blathers that weren’t in the N64 iteration, and Animal Crossing soon became a hit with Japanese critics and players alike.

Porting Animal Crossing for an international audience would prove to be a considerable task, however, with the game’s reams of dialogue and cultural references all requiring careful translation. But the effort that writers Nate Bihldorff and Rich Amtower put into the English-language version would soon pay off; Nintendo’s bosses in Japan were so impressed with the additional festivals and sheer personality present in the western version of Animal Crossing that they decided to have that version of the game translated back into Japanese. This new version of the game, called Doubutsu no Mori e+, was released in 2003.

4. K.K. SLIDER IS BASED ON ON THE GAME'S COMPOSER.

One of Animal Crossing’s most recognizable and popular characters is K.K. Slider, the laidback canine musician. He’s said to be based, both in looks and name, on Kazumi Totaka, the prolific composer and voice actor who co-wrote Animal Crossing’s music. In the Japanese version of Animal Crossing, K.K. Slider is called Totakeke—a play on the real musician’s name. K.K. Slider’s almost as prolific as Totaka, too: Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the Nintendo 3DS contains a total of 91 tracks performed by the character.

5. ONE CHARACTER HAS BEEN KNOWN TO MAKE PLAYERS CRY.

A more controversial character than K.K. Slider, Mr. Resetti is an angry mole created to remind players to save the game before switching off their console. And the more often players forget to save their game, the angrier Mr. Resetti gets. Mr. Resetti’s anger apparently disturbed some younger players, though, as Animal Crossing: New Leaf’s project leader Aya Kyogoku revealed in an interview with Nintendo's former president, the late Satoru Iwata.

“We really weren't sure about Mr. Resetti, as he really divides people," Kyogoku said. “Some people love him, of course, but there are others who don't like being shouted at in his rough accent.”

“It seems like younger female players, in particular, are scared,” Iwata agreed. “I've heard that some of them have even cried.”

To avoid the tears, Mr. Resetti plays a less prominent role in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and only appears if the player first builds a Reset Surveillance Centre. Divisive though he is, Mr. Resetti’s been designed and written with as much care as any of the other characters in Animal Crossing; his first name’s Sonny, he has a brother called Don and a cousin called Vinnie, and he prefers his coffee black with no sugar.

6. THE SERIES IS STILL EVOLVING.

Since its first appearance in 2001, the quirky and disarming Animal Crossing has grown to encompass toys, a movie, and no fewer than four main games (or five if you count the version released for the N64 as a separate entry). All told, the Animal Crossing games have sold more than 30 million copies, and the series is still growing. In late 2017, the mobile title Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was released for iOS and Android. It's a big step for the franchise, as Nintendo is famously selective about which of its series get a mobile makeover. A game once inspired by the loneliness of moving to a new town has now become one of Nintendo’s most successful and beloved franchises.

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